Two blocks north of my house is an old industrial area, featuring large patches of swamp overgrown with willow and head-high rushes. To the west there’s a large tract of similar terrain, more heavily wooded but without the industry.
Old timers in the area refer to it as the CN tie plant. At one time CN Rail treated ties there and, as there are still traces of contamination, the area is not suitable for development. This is to my benefit, as a variety of wildlife live there, many of which occasionally make forays into my neighbourhood and, sometimes, into my yard.
Early Christmas morning I looked out my front window to spot a mother deer with her half-grown fawn purposefully perambulating down my street.
I looked up into the heavens wondering if I’d see the star of Bethlehem guiding them along their perilous path on this holiest of nights. Though it was overcast, there seemed to be a radiance shining through the clouds.
Wishful thinking? I think not. I don’t think I could find a finer image than that of those innocent and peaceful animals to introduce me to Christmas Day.
I don’t know what the deer find in the way of sustenance in this neighbourhood but they seemed to know their way around. Until it died, I had an ornamental crab tree in the front yard.
A variety of wildlife used to visit, not only for the fruit but for the bird seed spilled over from the feeder. Possibly the deer know of other bird-feeding stations or ornamental crab trees where they can scrounge a snack. I wish them well.
At my backyard feeder I get a variety of visitors, mostly sparrows but chickadees, woodpeckers, blue jays, and numerous others visit on a regular basis. Rabbits also enjoy the bird seed scattered liberally on the ground. I also am visited by both red and grey squirrels. The red squirrel, like most of his kin, is bad tempered and acts as though every morsel of food on the yard is his personal property. After chasing away the birds the saucy pirate takes up a position on the peak of my garage. Hands folded across his chest he arrogantly looks down on his realm, monarch of all he surveys.
This Christmas a covey of partridge discovered my feeding station and I enjoy their company. After feeding they huddle together out of the wind, resting easily, feathers fluffed up to combat the cold.
I want no finer sight than deer peacefully walking down my street and partridge comfortably resting in my backyard to show me that there’s hope for us all.
I consider myself fortunate at this time of the year to have such interesting and agreeable visitors to indelibly impress upon me the "magic of Christmas."
Ron Buffie is a community correspondent for Transcona. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org